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How Foolproof are Placement Reports?

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More often than not stories of fudged placement reports have been a part of our discussions with acquaintances studying in B-schools. We all have heard of false claims made by institutes to attract students, one of them being 100 percent placement. In 2011, IIM Ahmedabad launched the Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS) as a step to provide authentic and reliable placement data to help MBA aspirants make an informed decision. Three years down, how many MBA aspirants are aware about it? Anushi Agrawal with inputs from Veena Kurup of Elets News Network (ENN) finds out

Purvi Patel was at crossroads of her career after she failed to get admission to IIM Ahmedabad, her dream B-school. A final year MBA student, Purvi says, “I did not have any clue about IPRS that time. What a student needs at the time of admission is authentic information about the placement figures of a college. I did not know how to figure it out.”
Failing to gather the realities of placement data, Purvi not only browsed through institute websites, MBA education portals, magazines and B-school rankings, she also visited some institutes, spoke to students, alumni and counselors. “I hail from a middle class family. I was to apply for a huge loan for doing the MBA and any wrong decision could have put me in the soup,” Purvi said in retrospect. She was looking for the right course at various institutes with appropriate salary packages and her dream companies in their recruiters’ list, when she got a call from the institute she is currently pursuing her MBA. She realised that most of the professors were PhDs and the institute was ranked well in most rankings. So, she decided to go for it. It was much later that she reaslised that the institute is a signatory to Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS).
Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS) are instituted by IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) in 2011 to standardize B-school placement reports. While a few top B-schools are signatory to it but there are many, including IIMs, who do not comply with IPRS thus, making it a lopsided initiative. But the members are hopeful that as the system matures there will be many more participants in IPRS. It is also believed that IPRS will help put a check on fake placement reports in the long run.

 

Objective of IPRS
IPRS aims to bring in uniformity in the manner in which Indian business schools report salary and non-salary information related to placements. These standards would enable a fair comparison between B-schools on multiple parameters including compensation


The need for standards

The necessity of such an initiative was felt after there were reports of B-schools inflating their stipend and salary figures for summer and final placements which is often misleading for MBA aspirants. Moreover, each B-school has its own format of placement reports which does not make it comparable to others. Therefore, IPRS was devised as a solution to lack of standardization and clarity which may lead to misinterpretation of data leading to wrong decision making. “The standard was designed to ensure that aggregate level statistics are reported while still preserving the confidentiality of individual-level and firm-level data, thereby satisfying the needs of all stakeholders,” said Balasubramanian S, Coordinator, Student Placement Committee, IIM Ahmedabad.
IPRS is based on the MBA CSC Standards for Reporting Employment Data under the aegis of MBA Career Service Council since 1999 in United States. In India, IPRS require that placement data be audited by an independent auditor. CRISIL offers this service under the Business School Grading initiative. “CRISIL validates the information in the placement report with respect to remuneration, job function and location of the placement. The validation of the information is based on communication received by the institute. Each data point is verified through a valid set of documents which includes offer letters, IPRS forms, emails from official IDs and company presentations, among other documents,” said Anurag Jhanwar, Director, CRISIL Education Gradings. This verified data is then made available in the public domain to existing and prospective students, recruiters, media and ranking agencies and other stakeholders.
 

Followers of IPRS


• IIM Ahmedabad

• SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai

• Sahyadri Institute of Management Studies, Pune

• Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune

• TA Pai Management Institute, Manipal

• Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies, Pune

 

Are institutes ready for IPRS?
IPRS, an attempt to cleanse the mucky B-school placement reportage in the country is into its third year now. After the initial hiccups, today it has twenty nine signatories out of which only six have released their placement report as per the IPRS norms.
The program does not enjoy support from many B-schools since the beginning. The B-schools have been apprehensive about the data to be disclosed in the report since its inception. While India has about 3000 B-schools offering MBA programme, IPRS enjoys support from only 29 of them. IPRS has also come under a lot of criticism for being in favour of the established B-schools in the country as they usually have the big numbers to show in terms of salary packages or number of students placed. The relatively smaller or less known B-schools do not have similar figures to flaunt and thus IPRS put them in a bad light. But on the hindsight, the main purpose of IPRS is to check that these institutes do not fake their placement data to attract more prospective students. “Ranking agencies give very high marks to the placement records. Figures are manipulated, institutes which wrongly report 100% placement will not able to manipulate salary figures if their records are audited. This is one of reasons that prevent some of the institutes from being a part of IPRS,” says Abbasali Gabula, Deputy Director External Relations & Administration,B-school placement reportage in the country is into its third year now. After the initial hiccups, today it has twenty nine signatories out of which only six have released their placement report as per the IPRS norms. The program does not enjoy support from many B-schools since the beginning. The B-schools have been apprehensive about the data to be disclosed in the report since its inception. While India has about 3000 B-schools offering MBA programme, IPRS enjoys support from only 29 of them. IPRS has also come under a lot of criticism for being in favour of the established B-schools in the country as they usually have the big numbers to show in terms of salary packages or number of students placed. The relatively smaller or less known B-schools do not have similar figures to flaunt and thus IPRS put them in a bad light. But on the hindsight, the main purpose of IPRS is to check that these institutes do not fake their placement data to attract more prospective students. “Ranking agencies give very high marks to the placement records. Figures are manipulated, institutes which wrongly report 100% placement will not able to manipulate salary figures if their records are audited. This is one of reasons that prevent some of the institutes from being a part of IPRS,” says Abbasali Gabula, Deputy Director External Relations & Administration, SPJIMR. He added that in order to secure the future of the students, government should make a law that binds all the institutions to get their placement reports audited.

One of the major concerns for the B-schools is the cumbersome process of making the report as per IPRS norms. Prof Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, Associate Professor Marketing and Chairperson (Placements) of IIM Kashipur, which is the latest B-school to be the signatory of IPRS, says, “It gets quiet difficult to come out with the report on time since it is a very long process to collect the data. A new institute like ours which is doing it for the first time takes about 6 to 8 months to collect the data and come out with the report. It requires a lot of commitment to stick to the IPRS norms.” It is probably this lack of commitment on the part of B-schools that most of the signatories who have been part of IPRS since its inception have still not come out with the placement report as per IPRS norms for two years now. Raising this concern, Dr H S Srivatsa, Associate Professor and Chairman-Placements, T A Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) said, “All B-schools who are members of IPRS should participate to the fullest extent. It’s not enough if B-schools become members of IPRS and do not get their placement data audited.” This really fails the purpose being part of an initiative like IPRS.

Santosh Mathews, Vice President-Corporate, MITCON Institute of Management
Lack of awareness and the non mandatory approach might be among the few prime causes that have resulted in the non-acceptance of IPRS on a larger scale

Some of the institutes, including IIMs, who are not part of the initiative, believe that IPRS over-emphasizes on salary packages. MBA is not only about landing up good jobs and earning hefty salaries. Some of the IIMs have internal policy of not disclosing salary figures and this contradicts with the IPRS norms, resulting in their non-participation in IPRS. Dean of School of Management, NMIMS, Dr Debashis Sanyal says, “We have our own system of reporting standard and are quite happy with its functioning. Moreover, the market as a whole does not demand its necessity. We didn’t feel the standard is good enough for us to accept it.” Also most of the times, recruiters are not very cooperative in reporting the salary break-ups as per IPRS, further discouraging institutes to take up the initiative. The report clearly states that the individual level data specific to a student or a recruiter would not be shared as a part of the placement report. As pointed out by Abbasali Gabula, “IPRS is not company specific, it gives an overall picture of the institute. It is only a consolidation of data which is put before the public and such data should not be difficult for the recruiters or the institutes to facilitate for the report.”

Despite only six signatories complying with the IPRS norms, IIM-A is hopeful of a more positive response in the future. “Over the years IPRS has become more mature and refined with better data capturing and categorization and also detailed placement records. For the 2012- 13 Final Placements, we have seen highest levels of participation with data points being captured for 98.9 percent of PGP offers, 97.8 percent of PGPX offers and 100 percent of PGP-ABM offers,” said Balasubramanian S said.

IPRS cannot be a game changer until most of the B-schools comply with it. The standardization of data is only helpful when there is enough data to be standardized and eventually be compared. Data of only six B-schools do not give out any trend or help students in better decision making. “Though the standard has assisted in bringing more transparency in the placement reporting system, the scenario still awaits acceptance among the B-Schools at large. Unless the corporate start insisting on the standardization, IPRS will remain as a nicety,” said R Shreenath, Director, Corporate & Career Services, Great Lakes Institute of Management.

The Anatomy of IPRS
One of the major deterrents for B-schools to adopt IPRS is the structure of the IPRS report. It is quiet a task to release placement report as per IPRS norms. Institutes need to provide data regarding internship and final placements. Data collected for internship could be nonsalary information but data collected for final placements has to be both nonsalary and salary information.
Data required for IPRS for internship include job/role function, sector, location, responsibilities and stipend details. The recruiters and institutes are also required to report a split-up of the various components of the salary and not just the total Cost to Company (CTC).
Salary components to be reported as per IPRS include fixed yearly component, total one-time cash benefits at the time of joining, maximum possible performancelinked compensation during the first year of performance and maximum Earning Potential (MEP). The institutes also have to provide the minimum, maximum, mean and median salary statistics pertaining to students placed on campus.
Explaining the procedure of collecting the data for IPRS and making the report, Prof Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, who is in the process of making the report for 2013, says, “It is a three stage process, first an organization becomes a signatory, fills up a form and send it to IPRS. They need to collate all the information provided by the recruiters. They also send a supplementary sheet to the recruiters which needs to be filled by them, as many a times offer letters are not very clear on the breakup of the salary and only give CTC. Companies do not disclose salary break up at times in which case institutes can request their students to send across their salaries details. But there is no surety of compliance from students either. Hence, at times it becomes a difficult proposition for institutes.”


Salary components to be reported as per IPRS include fixed yearly component, total one-time cash benefits at the time of joining, maximum possible performancelinked compensation during the first year of performance and Maximum Earning Potential


Who does IPRS concern?
As stated in one of the objectives of IPRS, “The information based on these standards would provide media and ranking agencies with correct data and statistics for them to release the appropriate news and research reports. Also these standards would help aspiring students in taking career decisions based on correct information.” But the bigger question is, are students even aware about the existence of IPRS?
Nupur Mehta, MBA final year student says, “I am not aware of IPRS and have not heard about it before.” Another MBA student Sajil Shah who is aware of IPRS, wants the report to be more crisp. “There was too much statistics involved in the report. A fresher or an individual who is not from a B-School background will find it difficult to understand and analyze the information disclosed in the report,” said Sajil Shah. Tanya Khera, MBA aspirant says, “IPRS has the right intent but there is need to create awareness about it which can be done through social media and social networking sites which are most frequently visited by MBA aspirants.”
Prof Dwarika Prasad Uniyal feels that IPRS need more time to establish and be accepted by all stakeholders. He says, “There is not much awareness amongst students because it’s not publicized much. At the same time students do not do this much homework when opting for an institute. They go by media reports, portals, rankings and so on and students bodies are not that much mature to look at it, but as the system matures with time, things will improve.” But for students who were aware about IPRS before taking the admission into B-school, IPRS did help them in taking an informed decision. However, they feel that more should be disclosed in the report. “There is need for more clarity on the kind of profile being offered by the companies offering placements in B-schools. The report only talks about sectors which are very vague,” said Ayush Gupta, final year MBA student.
IPRS is also helpful for the institutes in keeping their internal records in place. “It’s a pretty good governance structure to put in place. It also helps in the case of RTI queries, it saves our job when such queries come up, and we are able to share the real and audited data,” said, Prof Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, Associate Professor Marketing and Chairperson (Placements), IIM Kashipur.
At a time when B-schools are no longer the favorite destination for students, IPRS does seem as a solution to the fudged placement reports. It can help students like Purvi to take a well-informed decision that is going to have a huge impact on their lives. IPRS can prove to be a helpful tool in deciding about B-schools but it certainly is not a one-stop solution all the admission dilemmas. The need is to create awareness about IPRS among students, both prospective and current, and industry professionals and willingness of the B-schools to adapt it. As suggested by Santosh Mathews, Vice President-Corporate, MITCON Institute of Management, “Lack of awareness and the non-mandatory approach might be among the few prime causes that have resulted in the non-acceptance of IPRS on a larger scale.”

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